Payment processing trends: What every operator should know

While there are many trends in the credit and debit card industry, security is the trend that most restaurants should put at the top of their list. Security goes beyond locking the front door at closing time. Restaurant operators also must secure the sensitive information their customers provide when paying for their services.
 
Identity theft and credit card fraud are chief concerns for consumers and the credit card industry, and should have great significance to the restaurant operator. Card and identity thieves are becoming increasingly more capable.
 
In 2009, there was a considerable increase in businesses affected by security breaches in the hospitality and restaurant industry. In response to the growing threat, major credit card brands like Visa and MasterCard have continued to increase the scope and rigor of consumer protection standards.
 
The PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) has been implemented in phases, with various deadlines, to control the way card data is transmitted and stored. Credit card processors have a looming deadline of July 1, 2010, to ensure their customers operate in a PCI compliant manner.
 
The PCI DSS standard covers many aspects of storing and handling credit card data. The PCI PED (PIN Entry Devices) component is focused on the hardware used at the point of sale (POS) for capturing the 4-digit PIN number on a consumer's debit card. Restaurant owners must ensure that debit card accepting devices are PCI PED compliant, or they risk fines and fees from their processors and the card brands.
 
While the July 1 deadline is directed at the member organizations (banks), processors enabling the acceptance of these transactions are expected to ensure their customers comply with these standards. Many processors are mandating that their customers undergo a PCI audit to ensure compliance and are assessing fees for those customers that do not comply.
 
The goal of these fees is to encourage customer compliance, which will help reduce the risk to both the merchant and the processor. A PCI audit varies in cost, based on the price negotiated by the customer or processor, but is intended to identify security concerns, including devices, software, and processes, that may expose the merchant to the risk of data theft.


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